Carenado Piper Seneca V Review!!
The Piper Seneca, one of the last remaining piston twins still being produced in the market today. Now in it’s 4th decade of service, the Piper Seneca is pleasing it’s owners just as it had in 1971 with twin turbocharged reliability, comfortable cabin and workhorse performance. Carenado, a leader in flight simulator aircraft add-ons, took up the daunting challenge of doing the classic Piper design justice with their version of the exquisite Seneca V.
Development of the Piper Seneca started in the early 1960’s with Piper wanting to develop a twin engine version of their successful Cherokee Six design. Work began on the new twin and the prototype was even flown as a tri-motor in the early stages of flight testing. The first “Twin Six” flew on April 24th, 1967. Given two 180hp Lycoming 0-360 engines, fixed landing gear and an unmodified Cherokee Six tail it was less then stellar as far as performance. Shortly thereafter Piper produced the second prototype which this time was given retractable landing gear and a taller vertical tail. The third and final prototype was given 20 more horsepower with Lycoming IO-360-A1A engines.
From the very first production model the Seneca was fitted with counter-rotating propellers and thus expelling a lot of opposite rudder on takeoff while also eliminating the “critical engine” scenario in case of a shut down or failure of either engine. Weighing in with a gross weight of 4,000 lbs., the Seneca I received a fair amount of complaints about its handling characteristics and lack of turbochargers so engineers and designers began work on the Seneca II to address these shortcomings.
Fast forward 21 years and Piper is still producing the Piper Seneca with their most impressive design yet of the Seneca with the Seneca V. Certified on December 11th, 1996 the Seneca V Features redesigned cowls, turbocharging, optional air conditioning and deicing equipment. Also, the gross weight at take off is 4,750 lbs. with a standard useful load with the 2014 model at 1,331 lbs. The standard avionic package that is with the factory new Seneca V these days is the Garmin G1000 model which is more than proven as a heavyweight in the avionics marketplace.
With leather interior, 3 panel Garmin G1000 avionics suite, air conditioning and turbocharged Continental TSIO-360-RB’s turning full feathering McCauley 3 blade constant speed props it’s easy to see why the Seneca V is still being produced after all other piston twin designs have fallen by the wayside.
With a real factory new Piper Seneca V coming in at a little over a million dollars, we can now take the controls of this reliable design with the offering from Carenado. So come on lets go for a flight around Key West, Florida and see what is in store for us!!
Entering the cabin the first thing you notice is the Garmin G600 with TAWS (Terrain Awareness and Warning System), TAS (Traffic Advisory System) and WX (weather). All the gauges and switches are right where they need to be to give the user the feel of a properly done Seneca. The textures stay true to the Carenado tradition and they are nothing short of stunning and I find with each new Carenado release they set the bar higher and higher. Even the blinds in the rear cabin are simulated as well as the fold out table in the back, very well done Carenado, well done!
Starting the Seneca V is just like starting any other piston engine airplane. One thing you will notice once the Continental engines are started is the sound that Carenado has provided with this aircraft. Moving your viewpoint now has a direct correlation with how the sound is which is a very nice touch and adds immersion. Turning the avioinics on once it is started is a treat because that’s when the Seneca seems to really come to life with the 3D knob technology. Setting our flight plan into the G600 via the dual Garmin 430’s is a breeze and we are off to taxi to the active runway.
With each of the two Continental TSIO-360-RB’s producing 220HP getting off the ground is not much a challenge while flying out Key West International. What is very nice is that on the PFD in the G600 the “V” speeds are shown on the screen which comes in handy when climbing out and also in case of an engine failure on take off. Climbing out with the temperature at 86 degrees Fahrenheit showing a vertical speed at a little over 1,000 fpm (feet per minute) and an indicated airspeed of 120 knots. The Seneca V is very stable on climb out and there are not any surprises thanks due in large part to the big “Hershey Bar” wing.
Cruising is enjoyable and sets up nicely with cruise speeds above 160 knots indicated and with the turbocharged Continental’s purring away you are able to get above most weather. One thing that is nice is the fact that it does have two engines. I know if I lived in the Great Lakes region or in the Bahama’s I would be looking for a twin or a turboprop just for the reliability, the last thing you would want is to wind up in the drink on your way to a vacation spot.
Another great feature is the avionics on the Seneca V. The Garmin G600 is very easy to operate and keeps your situational awareness at a max level with TAWS (Traffic Awareness System). Flight planning is a breeze when setting up the dual Garmin 430’s and getting the autopilot to capture the flight plan is simple with S-Tec autopilot.
Stalls and power on stalls are predictable with a good buffet and also they are displayed on the Garmin G600 display. Engine out operation is predictable all the way up to Vmc and I can see no problems landing the Seneca on one engine if needed.
The sound set used in this model is quite excellent. The throaty start up sounds are believable and also the in flight sounds are well done and gives the impression of sitting between the two reliable Continental TSIO-360’s! The other nice feature of the sound set is that when you move the view point the angle to which the sound comes from changes with the view point and in my opinion this just adds to the immersion of the model. Sound sets can either make or break some models and in my opinion this passes with flying colors!
The Carenado Piper Seneca V is a great twin engine aircraft and it is easy to see why it is one of the last ones standing in the piston twin market. Avionics that get the job done, honest flight characteristics and a good sound set. This is a great cruiser with a good payload and would make a great local air taxi aircraft or for someone who relies on twin engine reliability. In my opinion Carenado hits the mark once again with the Seneca V!!